Written by Tristin Campbell. Media by Bre Pollitt.
For those who are highly involved in the YouTube community, this is a chaotic time. The site’s largest star, Felix Kjellberg, who goes by the username “Pewdiepie”, is at war with the media. When the camera is on, Felix is known for putting on the character of Pewdiepie (a loose cannon). People love him for it. He pushes boundaries and has a dry sense of humor that relies heavily on shock value.
Recently, Felix released a video reviewing, “Fiverr”, a site that pays people to do a variety of services for five dollars. Felix’s goal was to show how ridiculous the site is and how far people will go to get five dollars. The “Funny Guys” on Fiverr fulfilled a challenge and held up a sign that read, “Death to all Jews”, and then told the watchers to subscribe to Keemstar (a YouTube personality known for his racist comments and abusive language).* In the video, Felix was shocked:
I am sorry, I didn’t think they would actually do it.”
Most of Felix’s audience saw the joke as a shot taken at Keemstar, but for those who saw the video out of context, the message appeared to be filled with hate.
Later, Felix released a statement on his Tumblr account:
I think it’s important to say something. I want to make one thing clear: I am in no way supporting any kind of hateful attitudes. I make videos for my audience. I think of the content that I create as entertainment and not a place for any serious political commentary. I know my audience understands that and that is why they come to my channel. Though this was not my intention, I understand that these jokes were ultimately offensive.”
Felix acknowledged the negative response and acted appropriately by apologizing and restating that his intention is never to hurt or offend anyone.
This was only the beginning. Pewdiepie’s influence spans to over 53 million subscribers. He’s made videos for almost seven years and became intolerant of how the media reflects reality. This concern came to full fruition in the last few days when the “Wall Street Journal” released a video against Felix. Footage was taken from nine of Felix’s videos and edited together as proof that Felix is a Nazi supporter. Because of the ridiculous anti-semitic allegations, he was dropped by Maker Studios and Disney and his show, “Scare Pewdiepie Season 2” on YouTube Red, was canceled.
Felix made an inappropriate joke and suffered the consequences; however, many people think the media exaggerated the issue to fill their pockets. Felix responded with an official apology and called out the media for blowing the situation out of proportion to get the headlines. He received an abundance of support from the YouTube community in releasing that statement. Several other big-name YouTubers supported Felix by criticizing the way the media handled everything. YouTubers are also questioning why Felix is being attacked by thousands of people. These attackers are acting as “Joke Police” (stated by Jenna Marbles in her recent podcast about the controversy) when big shows like “South Park” and “Family Guy” have been dropping similar jokes for years without consequence.
We choose to watch YouTube just like we choose to watch TV. So, why is a channel being punished for making a joke that people didn’t like? What does this say about the future of YouTube? Was this a fair judgment and a good business call from Disney and YouTube, or was this another example of the media dehumanizing someone for the sake of profit?
*Editor’s note: We do not agree with, or condone, the anti-semitic nature of Pewdiepie’s joke. However, Pewdiepie apologized and was punished abundantly, which is why the focus of this article is on the corrupt nature of the reporting sources surrounding the incident.